Friendly

FriendlyOne of the things I like about living in Austin is that, so often, people here are simply friendly. The Bible says, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly, and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother”. (Proverbs 18:24) Friendliness and friendship are things that are easy to take for granted and not notice much. But for so many people, friendship is really important and often very lacking.

park bench 1-fixedToday I was out at my favorite bench where I often go to get away from things a little. And also to have a little prayer time. Some people walked by that I didn’t know and they smiled and we exchanged a few words. What’s so unusually about that? Well I can tell you that doesn’t happen just everywhere. Some places people don’t greet each other on the street and there’s just a good deal less open friendliness in some parts.

But friendship is actually a big deal. Jesus told His disciples, “I have not called you servants but friends” (John 15:15). The Lord wasn’t some austere, ascetic, hyper-spiritual  guru. Evidently Jesus was an exceptionally warm and kind man. And still He was the Son of God. So that whole thing of warmth, friendliness, being approachable, being “without guile” has always seemed to me to really be important.

I’m all for spirituality. “To be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Romans 8:6) But there’s a temptation there for some to get really “spiritual” and somehow this can turn into a lofty, cold aloofness or spiritual attainment. Inadvertently it can leave behind the simplicity of friendship, spontaneous kindness and inclusiveness.

made my day flatI heard someone say onetime about how they loved someone but they didn’t like them. And then I heard another man who said, “We not only loved you, we really liked you.” I  thought about that. Have you ever had someone who you felt “loved” you but they actually didn’t like you? It’s a funny feeling. It almost seemed like they were fulfilling some kind of religious obligation they felt to love you. But personally they didn’t like you. It’s uncomfortable to be in situations like that and it’s happened to me as a Christian.

Paul in the Bible was not only a towering spiritual presence, it seems like he was a genuinely warm and friendly person. He said to the Thessalonians, “So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you were dear to us.” (I Thessalonians 2:8) Paul really liked them. It wasn’t just a religious duty that drove him.

For me, friends are important. I just hate to lose friends, for whatever reason. Sadly that kind of thing does happen. Solomon said, “A brother offended is harder to be won that a strong city, and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.” (Proverbs 18:19)  Friendship is such a precious thing and I think therefor the devil just loves to throw a monkey wrench into the city of our fellowship and our friendships, sowing misunderstands, contention and just the division that is Satan’s specialty.

But friendship is of God; it’s important and very precious. It even says of Abraham, that he was “the friend of God” (James 2:23). Imagine that, to be God’s friend. That’s actually a good way to look at God. We need to fear, respect and reverence the Lord and treat him like the king He is. But also, for me at least, I often just need to talk to God as my best friend, someone I can be honest with and real.

I think that for many in this world, simple warmth, friendliness and friendship are getting harder and harder to find. Of course you can say that friendships like that can be sometimes shallow and trivial. Well, we need both kinds.friend no more flat We need just simple friendliness like I encountered in the park today. But we need the kind that Solomon spoke of, “the friend that sticks closer than a brother”. (Proverbs 18:24)

Maybe it’s because we live in the endtime. Jesus said of those times, before His return, “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12) It sure seems like that’s how it is in many places today, the love of many has grown cold. And friendliness also is just less present than in the past.

What to do? Be friendly, “show yourself friendly”, don’t drop or forget your friends who may need you more than you realize and be deeply hurt if you stop communicating with them. I heard someone say one time something so simple, but so true, “What everybody needs is love. If they don’t find it here, where are they going to find it?” And certainly the same can be said for friends and friendliness. It’s in decline. Lord help us to be warm, loving and friendly.

One thought on “Friendly

  1. It’s always good when you come across someone that is saying the exact same things that you have been thinking and feeling so I’m in total agreement with all that you’ve said here. As an old song I once heard goes, “What the world needs now is love sweet love, it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” We all need love and we all need to be seen, heard and felt at every level of our lives and that is where friendliness and reaching out to others is so important. This should come naturally to a Christian as they have the love of Jesus and they should be radiating His Love in all of their words and actions. Sadly, this is not always the case with all Christians though, they talk about love and say all the right things but when it comes to radiating love they and are oftentimes cold, unfriendly, uncommunicative and unresponsive, keeping their marginal distance even. It’s as if they have to follow some rigid protocol of social exchange and are therefore lacking in any real spontaneity, warmth and openness so it certainly does feel like the love of many is growing cold these days and I think that those simple but very wise words are so true “What everybody needs is love. If they don’t find it here, where are they going to find it?” It’s so important that we put each other on the map these days and we include each other rather than exclude, that we do not step over or neglect all the little things in our pursuit of greater things, that we judge others on their simple need to be loved. Isn’t it all as simple as that? That we all need love and where there is another human being, no matter who they are, there is an opportunity to show God’s love, who Himself gives freely, without partiality and without end!

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